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Ironman Wisconsin 2007 Before Hand


Gather all ye ’round, to hear the tale of crossing an Ironman finish line. The location of the torture would be Wisconsin. In the eight months leading up to the race, I had run over 1,000 miles, biked almost 4,000, and swam over 100 miles. Would this be enough?1 I would answer that question myself as conditions beyond my control prevented my friends and family from being in Madison. I still knew a couple of people that would be at the race though, and others would be following me online.

T Minus 2 Days

All my gear

I brought the kitchen sink along

I departed home mid-morning Friday for the trip to Madison. Despite leaving relatively late into Ironman weekend, I still passed more than a couple racers making the pilgrimage. Since my family and friends could not attend the race, and I had already dumped all my money into my bike, I forwent a hotel room and instead pitched a tent at Capital Springs Centennial State Park. Surprisingly, I was not the only cheap triathlete at the campground. Although I think I was the only racer sleeping on the ground in a tent.

With my accommodations secured, I headed downtown to complete registration. Unlike everyone that arrived early, I did not have to wait in line and speedily retrieved my race information — procrastination has its advantages. With that simple process complete, I explored Athlete’s Village (a.k.a “the expo”). It was not all that impressive, lacking any exciting demonstrations or innovative booths.

Welcome Dinner

The large crowd at the welcome dinner

I attended an Iron Prayer service led by FCA, which did a great job of reinforcing the need to keep triathlons in perspective. Racers devote so much time and money into their training, and yet it will all pass away. The body of the strongest Ironman will still eventually wither and fade to dust. We must always focus on what really matters — salvation through Christ alone.

After worship, it was time for the athlete’s dinner. The food was surprisingly good, and throughout the meal some people were recognized who were more exceptional than just the run of the mill Ironmen. The people deserved their acknowledgement, but overall it was not the most inspirational or moving event. I enjoyed it nonetheless but would skip it if I had to buy a bunch of extra tickets for family and friends. The pre-race meeting followed the dinner, and the race directors gave their last minute information to the athletes. They did not announce anything too revolutionary, as I had done plenty of research online and could have aced a test covering the race information packet.

T Minus 1 Day

Transition Room

The transition room containing only a fraction of its bags

I had a comfortable night in my tent and spent a little time in the morning preparing my transition bags. With that task complete (although like everyone, I had a lingering feeling of forgetting something), I ensured I remembered how to tread water at the Gatorade Swim. I just did an easy half mile in my wetsuit before returning to dry land.

With the transition rooms not yet open, I watched the kids’ fitness race around the capital. Although its main purpose was to encourage healthy activity in children, some of the parents running along side their kids were struggling a lot more than their youngsters. Hopefully the adults could learn something as well.

After triple checking all the mechanical workings, I dropped off my bike and gear bags at Monona Terrance. With the pre-race rituals complete, I browsed the Wisconsin Historical Museum. It contained many informative and interesting exhibits about Wisconsin’s history. And thankfully, I did not spot a single Packer’s photo either. After exploring the museum, I grabbed a late lunch and headed back to the campground.

My bike

My bike all ready for its deed

Although I am sure logistics necessitates it, I still hate Ironman for requiring racers to register two days before the event. It adds to the weekend’s expense (especially for those with a solid roof over their heads), and leaves ample downtime Saturday afternoon. It does afford time for racers to clear their heads and focus before the the big day, but it also can become a bit monotonous. Too bad nothing good was playing at the show. Although the whole early registration was really just an evil conspiracy between Ironman and the hotels to force an extra night’s stay anyway.

I tried to make the most of the lazy and long afternoon, relaxing around camp and reading. At least my book, I Love You Beth Cooper, was really enjoyable. Except for everything that actually happened in the book, it was somehow an eerie, depressing reflection of too much of my life. It probably will not become a literary classic, but the book was still a great, easy read. With it finished, all I had left was obsessively rearranging and repacking the gear I would need early the next morning.

1 Yeah, yeah, just counting total mileage is a horrible metric since intensity, rest, etc. must be considered, but I am trying to build the drama, not give training advice.